Every year when holiday party season is over it feels like the year was defined by a certain dish. There was the year we served pulled pork at a Hanukah party and the year a friend first introduced us to glug. Some of those things become traditional (like the glug) while others get rotated out of the repertoire to make space for the new. If this past season was anything, it was the year of dips. Over the past month there have been many batches of pimento cheese and it made the holiday circuit with a companion – blue cheese dip.
Dip is one of those magical party food that you can make out of almost nothing and serve with a bag of chips for maximum impact. At it’s core a good dip is creamy and has a dominant flavor. Often the creamy element is dairy-based – sour cream or cream cheese or yogurt – but you can get the same effect from vegetables. Look at guacamole (pureed avocado), humus (chickpeas), and white bean dip (‘nuff said). Stick with one strong ingredient and maybe one complimentary flavor. Otherwise the whole thing feels a little muddled when you taste it, not to mention the possibility that the final dish will be oddly colored from all the ingredients (black bean guacamole for example is always an off-putting brown color).
The holiday parties may be over for this year but that doesn’t mean it’s time to retire your repertoire of easy-to-make crowd pleasers. And while blue cheese is a somewhat polarizing ingredient, those who love it, love it and even those that are medium about it have been known to go back for seconds of this dip.
Like any good party dish, this dip is better when made even a few days in advance and it goes well with most party staples. Chips, veggie sticks, even a batch of wings if you’re feeling adventurous. You can refresh it with more sour cream and blue cheese if you find yourself with leftovers and a new crop of guests. Or you can just save the last few spoonfuls for a decadent omelet to help with the morning-after.
Blue Cheese Dip
Adapted from Saveur Magazine
Makes about 2 cups of dip
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened*
6 oz blue cheese, crumbled
2 scallions, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 tsp kosher salt
Scant 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (just one or two dashes if you have a spice jar with a sprinkling lid
In a medium size bowl combine the cream cheese with 2 ounces of blue cheese**. Mash the ingredients together with a fork until they are soft and creamy and there no more big pieces. Add 1/4 cup of the sour cream and keep mashing until the mixture is less solid – this creates a more evenly mixed dip, otherwise the cream cheese won’t fully incorporate.
Once the mix is softer, add the rest of the sour cream and incorporate fully. Add the rest of the blue cheese, the scallions (reserve 1-2 tbs for garnish if you’d like ), the salt, and the cayenne, and mix thoroughly. Then cover the container tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 3 days for the flavors to come together. Remove the dip from the fridge abut 20 minutes before serving so it’s not quite so chilled (cold dulls flavor) and so that it’s softer (fewer broken chips). Then serve with chips, crackers, crudités, spoons, whatever you fancy.
* Normally I don’t really go in for softening or warming up ingredients but in this case it makes a big difference since this dip is made with a fork rather than an electric mixer. The colder the cream cheese the more elbow grease you’ll have to use. Or, alternatively, the chunkier your dip will be.
** Adding some of the blue cheese like this and some as crumbles ups the blue cheese flavor. If it was all crumbles then the different tastes wouldn’t combine as well, or it would take longer to do it. I keep a lot of the blue cheese crumbles whole because I like the texture but if you prefer a smoother dip then just mash all the blue cheese up with the sour cream.